Chapter 6 : It gets Better
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They honestly dealt with it.
Hermione found a very good plan to stop the melancholy mutterings Draco was so prone to. She kept him busy. Seeing as it was NEWT year, it was not an impossible feat. They did not bunk any other class. Homework was horribly touching the ceiling, a fact that Draco whined about at every opportunity. It was good to see, the normalcy of a teenager. Truth be told, the haunted look was slowly escaping his eyes.
They patrolled the corridors every Friday night. Nothing out the ordinary occurred—the same old students out of bed after lights-out, couples kissing in the dark corridors (the best couple by far was Zacharias Smith kissing Cormac Mclaggen—they were never going to outlive that!).
Filch hobbled around the corridors at night too, trying to find any student he could hang in the dungeons by the thumbs, like he had done last year. Draco had once disillusioned himself and kicked his pesky cat. She still limped a bit, and Hermione had learnt an important lesson: never pick a fight with a wizard who has muscles toned by Quidditch.
Draco’s horrible nightmares were making fewer appearances, at which time Hermione routinely gave him a glass of milk to drink. He didn’t need to know it had his Anti-Depressant Draft and Calming Drought in it.
Of course she had cleared it with Madam Pomfrey. What kind of an apprentice do you think she was?
“What are you doing?”
It was a week and a half before the winter holidays. Hermione had hogged the seat nearest the fire after a small wrestling match, and was scribbling steadfastly on a parchment the size of the Nile.
Hermione looked up from the letter she was writing. “Writing to Ginny and Harry.”
She thought he controlled his grimace wonderfully.
“Will you tell him about…us?”
Hermione smiled at his discomfort. “We are not sleeping together, Draco.” Her smile widened at the shock on his face. “What? I am just gonna tell them what’s going on here. And don’t worry; I will still be friends if they disagree with my new improved views of you.”
“And what are those? That I am totally kissable?”
“You wish.” She laughed, rolling her eyes. He smiled too. Hermione had decided week before last that she liked watching Draco smile. It made his eyes turn from grey to silver. “Well… I think you would not be that bad as a boyfriend.”
“Please,” he began sarcastically. “You’re making me blush. Stop!”
Draco cursed as Crookshanks settled on his lap. “I’m pretty sure he isn’t used to males.”
“What are you doing, anyway?”
“Besides wondering if I will ever be able to have children? Writing to my father.”
Hermione bit her lip. “You think he will like you to be friends with a mud—”
“I don’t care if you are muggle-born Hermione. Not any more. And as far as I know, neither does my father. And…We are not sleeping together, Hermione.”
Hermione liked the fact that Draco hadn’t given her a stupid, silly name. Her name sounded perfect in his cultural tones. Lately, Harry, Ginny and that Weasley had taken to calling her ‘Moine’, which was slightly irritating. At least they had yet to surpass Grawp’s ‘Hermy’.
Praise the Lord.
Thinking of Grawp…
“Hagrid’s invited us to his cottage for tea tomorrow.”
“—Will accept the offer graciously and politely, and try my best to make amends with the man I always called the Great Oaf.”
Draco looked sheepish. “Well, he is a—”
“What happened to the new improved Draco?”
“He’s out for lunch.”
“Shut up and write.”
Unfortunately for Draco, they did go to Hagrid’s house—cottage?—the next day.
At five to four on the sunny Saturday afternoon, they left the castle and made their way across the grounds. A crossbow and a pair of galoshes were outside the front door.
When Hermione knocked they heard a frantic scrabbling from inside and several booming barks. Then Hagrid's voice rang out, saying, "Back, Fang—back."
Hagrid's big, hairy face appeared in the crack as he pulled the door open.
"Hang on," he said. "Back, Fang."
“It’s just a silly dog, Draco,” admonished Hermione lightly as Draco made to flee. Of course she grabbed his arm.
Hagrid let them in, struggling to keep a hold on the collar of the enormous black boarhound.
There was only one room inside. Hams and pheasants were hanging from the ceiling, a copper kettle was boiling on the open fire, and in the corner stood a massive bed with a patchwork quilt over it.
"Make yerselves at home," said Hagrid, letting go of Fang, who bounded straight at Draco and started licking his ears. Like Hagrid, Fang was clearly not as fierce as he looked.
"Say hello, Draco. Of course you know him from school," Harry told Hagrid, who was pouring boiling water into a large teapot and putting rock cakes onto a plate.
"Another Malfoy, eh?" said Hagrid, glancing at Draco's blonde locks. “I never spent any time with any of you. Lucky me."
“I’m sorry,” said Draco. He shrunk a bit under Hermione’s glare, then added, “for…everything.”
Hagrid was stunned speechless for a minute. Then he offered the plate of rock cakes. “Have a cake, Draco?”
The rock cakes were shapeless lumps with raisins that almost broke their teeth, but Hermione and Draco pretended to be enjoying them as they told Hagrid all about their boring History lessons. Fang rested his head on Draco's knee and drooled all over his robes.
Draco wondered whether he was possessed by aliens when he began thinking that this was a very homey setting.
“Where’s Ron and Harry, Head Girl?”
Hermione told Hagrid briefly about Harry and Ginny buying a house and looking after Teddy. Then her expression turned sour.
“Ronald”—the single name contained an ocean of hate, causing Draco to flinch—“thinks that he does not need to study. He is already fulfilling his destiny as the media’s favourite son and resident gossip-monger.”
“He gave an interview to Witches’ Weekly,” Draco supplied. “What kind of self-respecting male does that? Is he gay?”
Hagrid’s guffaws shook the cottage.
“There’s an article on you in this month’s issue. You’re featured as the—get this—Prince of Darkness. In all fairness, they say you toyed with the dark side for a while, which—quote—adds to the charismatic sex appeal.”
“Why are they stopping Quidditch, Hagrid?” Was Draco changing the topic?
“Well, Professor McGonagall reckons the matches hav always bin betwin four Houses. Nobody even got sorted in yer House this year, so she wants ter wait for next year.”
“Oh,” said Draco. “That’s actually quite nice of her.”
“We would love to stay, Hagrid, but there’s tons of homework. We still have to do your essay on the Sphinx’s intellectual restrictions.”
“Why, of course. Off yer go, then.”
They said good-bye to Hagrid and walked back up to the castle, where Zacharias was standing in front of the almost empty emerald hour-glass. “Well, well. If it isn’t the Death-Eater Smelly-fart and his beaver!”
Hermione turned to drag Draco away again, but Draco took a stand. “I, Zacharias, am an ex-Death Eater. And if you didn’t notice, let me tell you that my fellow School Head here lost her braces and large front-teeth four years ago. Now surd off before I take off points from Hufflepuff for bad-mouthing authority despite warning.”
“Why you arrogant little motherf—!”
“Twenty points from Hufflepuff,” said Draco coolly. “Thank Merlin I can’t knock any more off.”
With that, Draco strode off.
Hermione caught up with him before he could disappear in his dorm. Without warning, she jumped and him and hugged him so tightly the poor man had trouble breathing.
Taking pity on the choking man, Hermione shifted back. “Your cheeks look prettier when colored.”
“Wha—? I…I don’t blush, idiot.”
“Sure,” Hermione retorted as she rolled her eyes. “And Draco? I’m proud of you.”
He gazed intently into her eyes, trying to find out if she was lying, but she met his gaze without flinching.
Then she smirked as Draco’s eyes filled.
“I missed the waterworks.”
“Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.” Draco was trying to wipe his tears on the upholstery.
“If you’re that desperate, scurry off to the bathroom. Don’t shit in your pants. But first,” Hermione put up a hand when Draco let out a cry of frustration. “Bring me both your medi-potions.”
Draco brought out his Calming Drought and the Anti-Depressant Draft, and handed them to the Head Girl.
Who threw them in the cackling fire, saying, “You don’t need them.”
In the light from the suddenly purple flame, Draco grinned.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: -How’s this one? The entire story is loosely based on the song ‘You’re not alone’ by Michael Jackson, for those who haven’t guessed yet. And can anyone tell me how to get a copyright patent for one of my original works? Thank you to all the people who are making me their favorite author, or YANA their favorite story.
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